• Economic Interests. In order to improve the competitive status of the United States, the flow and exchange of relevant geoscience information through U.S. embassies and consulates should increase, and cooperative programs involving geoscientists from the Third World and other nations should be strengthened through organizations such as the Agency for International Development.

  • Foreign Policy. The awareness on the part of U.S. federal government groups involved in foreign policy decisions of the importance of the geosciences in negotiating global agreements should be improved. Specific policy topics requiring scientific input include waste management, acid rain, hazard reduction, energy and mineral resource availabilities, and desertification.

The committee's report included a proposal that the United States consider the establishment of an American Office of Global Geosciences "to remedy existing deficiencies and to develop a long-term mechanism for an increased geoscience contribution to U.S. foreign policy, economic growth, and basic research." The proposed office would serve as a clearinghouse for international geoscience information and could help coordinate geoscientific projects and activities involving private industry, governments, and academia. Examples of how this could be accomplished include the assignment of additional technically qualified regional resource officers to U.S. embassies and consulates. These officers, referred to in the past as mineral attaches, could keep abreast of global mineral and energy resource availability, promote the interchange of scientific and technical data, and be aware of local developments affecting science-related activities.


The following discussion and recommendations focus on undergraduate education, instrumentation and facilities, data collection and analyses, and global collaboration. In other sections of this chapter, conclusions and recommendations are highlighted in specific sections and are not repeated here.

Education in the Solid-Earth Sciences

Significant changes are required to make the training of solid-earth scientists reflect changing societal demands on the profession. The committee believes that no single discipline's viewpoint is adequate for understanding the behavior of earth processes—even for those that are fairly well defined. The conventional disciplinary courses should be supplemented with more comprehensive courses in earth system science. Such courses should emphasize a global perspective, interrelationships and feedback processes, and the involvement of the biosphere in geochemical cycles. This is important as application of the earth sciences is increasingly toward interdisciplinary problems.

Curricula are beginning to change in response to new and emerging fields but inevitably lag. New courses need to be developed to prepare students for growth in both employment and research opportunities in areas such as hydrology, land use, engineering geology, environmental and urban geology, and waste disposal. Such courses will be necessary to prepare students for changing careers in both the extractive industries and environmental areas of the earth sciences. No longer are these two areas separate, as mineral and energy resources need to be exploited in environmentally sound ways. Many of these "new" courses will cut across departmental boundaries. Colleges and universities should explore new educational opportunities (at both the undergraduate and graduate levels) that bridge the needs of earth science and engineering departments. This need arises from the growth of problems related to land use, urban geology, environmental geology and engineering, and waste disposal. The convergence of interests and research is striking, and the classical subject of "engineering geology" could become a significant redefined area of critical importance for society.

The need for training students to undertake basic research is fundamental; funding for independent research at all levels of education should be increased. The understanding of the scientific process acquired through research will serve students well whether they choose an academic, applied, or industrial career path.

As new concepts arise and fields change, there is a need, even for experienced scientists, for forms of continuing education. The sabbatical leave concept should be enhanced to provide researchers the ability to evolve with the field. Such a procedure would promote scientific currency and foster information exchange to the benefit of all.

Finally, support for graduate and postdoctoral studies should be strengthened. Supplying the basic educational training for a hundred doctoral-level and several hundred master's-level earth scientists requires between $10 million and $20 million per year in scholarships and educational research sup-

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